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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Luck unlikely to need fortune to become world-beater

Aussie youngster can be king of Castle Pines

Curtis Luck is completely at ease
1 of 1

Starts 8pm Wednesday

Palmer's top tip
Curtis Luck 33-1
Royal Pines is a complete test of golf, putting demands on every department of the game, and Curtis Luck can pass the assignment with flying colours. The Aussie youngster appears to be developing into a world-class player.

Every so often someone comes along who just seems to belong at the top table, and Luck has quickly shown serious ability. He won the WA Open when still an amateur last year, became US Amateur champion, was the world's number one amateur and finished 46th in the Masters before turning pro.

A tie for fifth in the Quicken Loans National on the US Tour in July underlined the quality of Luck, and 15th place after a slow start in the Australian Open last week was a perfect warm-up for the Australian PGA. He missed the cut by a shot at Castle Pines last year, but is much better equipped to contend 12 months later.

Next best
Michael Sim 90-1
The market leaders make no appeal, particularly course debutant Sergio Garcia, and preference is for each-way investments on Australian outsiders. Michael Sim gave up on his US Tour hopes, got married and moved to the Gold Coast, so this is a home game for a 33-year-old who is set to become a father in February.

Sim, the world's top amateur in 2005, won three times on the Nationwide ( Tour in 2009, dominating that circuit, and finished second in the 2010 Farmers Insurance Open. Injuries halted his progress, but he won the Queensland Open a month ago to revive his career.

Sim skipped the Aussie Open – he needed a breather after the six-round Japan Tour Q School and the NSW Open – keeping himself fresh for Castle Pines. He finished 21st last year.

Other selections
Brett Coletta 100-1
Ben Eccles 90-1
Brett Coletta was sixth in this tournament 12 months ago and the 21-year-old, an impressive winner of the Queensland Open last season, is another young wizard of Oz who could make waves.

Ben Eccles, a year older than Coletta, also looks a big price. Eccles, who won the 2015 NSW Open when still an amateur, has played some excellent golf in his last two events and made the cut in both his PGA appearances.

Staking plan
C Luck
2.5pts each-way 33-1 Coral
M Sim
1pt each-way 90-1 Betfred
B Coletta
1pt each-way 100-1 Betfred
B Eccles
1pt each-way 90-1 Betfred

More Steve Palmer tournament previews

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The lowdown

Course Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Prize money €1.15m (€191,660 to the winner)
Length 7,364 yards Par 72 Field 156

Course records – 72 holes 269 Harold Varner (2016) 18 holes 63 Rickie Fowler (2013).
Course winners taking part Adam Scott, Greg Chalmers, Nathan Holman, Harold Varner.

When to bet By 8pm on Wednesday
Time difference Queensland is ten hours ahead of the UK and Ireland.

Course overview RACV Royal Pines has hosted this tournament since 2013, the year Adam Scott landed his first Australian PGA triumph. Scores of 18 under par topped the leaderboard in 2013 and 2014, before Graham Marsh completed a redesign and toughened up the championship course.

Tight fairways, water hazards and undulating greens make this a decent test when the wind is blowing, as was the case in 2015 when nobody broke par over 72 holes, but birdies are still freely available when the weather allows, as Harold Varner showed 12 months ago.

Being close to the beach, the breeze is typically a factor. The first two holes are tough, and the 611-yard par-five third is not an easy birdie.

The other three par fives (the ninth, 12th and 15th) are much shorter. The 229-yard par-three 14th is a brute and the course closes with two difficult par fours.

The story of last year Harold Varner won his first professional title with a brilliant seven-under-par final round, defeating Andrew Dodt by two shots.

Weather forecast Clear for the most part over the first two days, with a threat of a brief thunderstorm, then sporadic showers over the weekend. Light breezes throughout.

Type of player suited to challenge Long, straight hitting is required, as well as touch to handle fast, undulating greens. Comfort in a breeze is helpful as it is rarely calm.

Key attribute Accuracy.

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Every so often someone comes along who just seems to belong at the top table
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